Submitted by Roldo on Tue, 09/29/2009 - 12:20.

Did anyone else notice the difference in tone, style and content between two Plain Dealer columnists on Sunday speaking about the dilemma of the Ohio state budget?


I did.


Larkin zeroed in on Gov. Ted Strickland for the financial mess - $1 billion shortfall - in Columbus using strikingly different language than long-time State House watcher Tom Suddes.


Larkin rapped Strickland with such wording as “breathtaking ineptitude” and depending on legal advice from the firm of “Barnum & Bailey” and describing Strickland’s attempt to balance the budget with slots as “pathetic performance,” something I might join with him.


Descriptive language but hardly even-handed. Particularly when you consider Larkin was the PD editorial boss during the truly pathetic Taft years.


Larkin even had the nerve to contrast Strickland with former Gov. Bob Taft, citing a job producing effort. I guess Larkin hasn’t noticed that jobs pour out not into Ohio in gusher style under Taft. Here’s Larkin’s take:


Suddes rapped Strickland, too, after the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling that the slots issue had to go to the voters.


However, Suddes noted that the court ruling didn’t “only” put Strickland, as he put it, “behind the eight ball.” Here’s Suddes’s take:


“But people of both parties need to start behaving like adults. Both Strickland and his foes seem to be thinking only of their political prospects. They need to be thinking instead – and jointly – about the prospects of 11 million Ohioans. Because even without the court’s decision, the national economic and the human-service demands it fuels made Ohio’s budget as rickety as a 2-year old taxi,” wrote Suddes.


That’s putting it into the correct perspective.

In other words, a plague on both your houses, says Suddes. Larkin, meanwhile, strikes only at Strickland.


Both Larkin, recently retired, and Suddes, an instructor at Ohio University and a member of the PD editorial board, are no longer at the paper. Suddes was a statehouse reporter for the PD.


Larkin, former boss of the PD editorial page, got much better play than Suddes. Larkin’s unbalanced attack – Headlined: “Flailing Strickland is sinking fast” – took up much of the PD’s Forum front page including a 13 by 8 inch cartoon of the governor.


Even more contrasting to the Larkin column, former governor, now U. S. Senator George Voinovich, yesterday met with the PD editorial staff and urged Republican to help Strickland solve the very serious money problem facing the state AND its people.


Voinovich rightly urged Ohio Senate President Bill Harris, as the PD’s Mark Naymik put it, to “begin working with Strickland on the state’s budget revenue shortfall.” Naymik’s story got poor display in this a.m. Metro pages. It can be found here:


Larkin should have read his own newspaper to find out that Harris and the Republicans can certainly share in the fiscal problem Ohio faces.


In a piece last November, Harris, a former banker-small businessman, sent what the PD called “an empathic message” to Strickland: “Don’t even think about messing with previous Republican-passed tax cuts.” Republicans control the State Senate.


Voinovich, to his credit, suggested that Strickland, with Harris and the Republicans, rescind the final year of a five-year 21 percent income tax cut forced by the Republicans in 2005 as one possible solution to the budget shortfall.


Democrats fear doing anything that even has the odor of a tax increase because they expect Republicans will yell and scream about tax increases.


That’s a correct assumption unless it is a bi-partisan tax cut.


The alternative is that Ohioans, particularly those without jobs or with special needs, will suffer – that is, suffer even more.


Larkin’s one-sided viewing of this important issue is detrimental to its solution. It also is putting the Plain Dealer – because of his former position – editorially in a box.


The question is: Who is the editorial boss now? Is it still Larkin or is it his successor, Betsy Sullivan.

It’s time that decision was made.










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